(c) By Jim Fox
Adam, five, of Kitchener is riding Petey at the Sunrise Therapeutic Riding & Learning Centre. (Jim Fox photo)
Culinary masters are sharpening their knives ready to battle it out in a Chef-Off presided over by celebrity TV chef Michael Smith.
The Great Local Food Chef-Off on June 26 in Puslinch Township, south of Guelph, could be termed a “galloping gourmet” event given that it’s being held at a therapeutic horse-riding centre.
Smith, known for his Food Network shows, is travelling from his home in Prince Edward Island to take part in this local cooking throw down to see which area chef’s cuisine will reign supreme.
Sunrise Therapeutic Riding & Learning Centre is hosting this first-time event featuring “a feast of local ingredients prepared by renowned local chefs in a friendly, yet competitive Chef-Off,” said Lynne O’Brien, operations and volunteer manager.
Money raised will support the programs including summer camps and equine care at Sunrise.
It was founded in 1982 by Ann Caine to provide therapy, recreation, sport and life-skills training for children and adults with special needs.
Therapeutic riding greatly enriches the lives of young people and adults with both physical and developmental needs, empowering them to achieve new goals, she said.
The setting for the “Tuscany-style” meal is the Sunrise property, a 42.5-hectare farm in the countryside, with trails, indoor and outdoor riding arenas, frog ponds and butterfly gardens between Guelph and Cambridge.
The Chef-Off will challenge eight local chefs to create their own signature dish from a list of local ingredients and the guests will be the judge.
An advocate of local food, flavour and simple recipes, Smith will host the event for 250 guests who will learn more about the area’s chefs and food producers.
|Celebrity TV chef Michael Smith|
The chefs participated last Saturday in the selection of their ingredients at the opening of the Aberfoyle Farmers Market, said Scott vanEngen, Sunrise president and chair.
Two chefs will prepare their first-course appetizer from their chosen ingredients along with a common “secret ingredient” to be made known at the event.
Three others will prepare their second-course dish, soup/salad, from the ingredients chosen and the remaining three will prepare the main course dish, both with “secret ingredients.”
Not forgetting dessert – it will feature local cherries and strawberries prepared by two local pastry chefs.
From herbs to water buffalo
“The menu will include many items from the basics in herbs to water buffalo as a main protein, all of which are sourced from the local producers at the market,” vanEngen said.
The chefs will be judged by the guests who buy voting tokens to indicate their favourite dish of each course, he said
“The chef with the most votes from each course will move forward and be voted on for best overall dish, with the chef having the most votes becoming the Chef-Off Champ.”
Chefs taking part include Brian Schmeler of Appetizingly Yours Events & Catering of Guelph; Ken Hodgins of Envers in Morriston; Kyle Smith, Aberfoyle Mill Restaurant; Scott Yates, Wildcraft Grill-Bar, Waterloo; Cameron Bryce, Delta Guelph Hotel & Conference Centre; Ravi Bala, Holiday Inn Guelph; Jaret Flannigan, Borealis Grille & Bar, Kitchener; and Katie Franks, With the Grain bakery, Guelph.
The day also includes a musical ride by Sunrise riders along with a silent and live auction to include a trip to Prince Edward Island to stay at the Inn of Bay Fortune where Smith got his start and where he will host a “chef’s table” dinner.
Meet, mingle, munch
There’s an opportunity to meet with Smith at a book signing “Meet and Mingle” on June 25 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The event takes place at the home of Bill and Donna Harrison at RR 1, Puslinch.
Smith is the host of the TV shows Chef at Home, Chef at Large and Chef Abroad. He is also a “cookbook author, newspaper columnist, professional chef and home cook.”
His latest book is the Best of Chef at Home: Essential Recipes for Today’s Kitchen.
If you go:
The Great Local Food Chef-Off on June 26 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. costs $150 to attend. It’s $75 for the meet and mingle alone or $50 for those also with Chef-Off tickets.
It takes place at the Sunrise Therapeutic Riding & Learning Centre, 6920 Concession 1, RR 2, Puslinch, Ont., just south of Highway 401.
For directions, tickets: www.chef-off.com; (519) 837-0558, Ext. 31; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com